Land as Resource

The grand vistas of waterfalls, mountains and plains reveal the psychological and spiritual pleasure offered by the natural beauty of the Americas. Artists also created paintings to showcase the bounty of the land, promoting the hemisphere as a safe, fertile place for investment and exploitation—a land of plenty. Framed by European ideas of land use and ownership, these works appealed to the landowning classes and helped to encourage the extraction of products such as fur, timber and precious metals and minerals, and the establishment of agricultural crops such as sugar, tobacco, coffee and cotton. The immense effort of working the land is depicted as effortless and romantic; there are few hints of backbreaking slave labor in these gentle scenes.